One of my coworkers recently got engaged on New Years Day and she is just beginning the planning process. She asked me now that I am nine months in to planning, what is my biggest piece of advice. While I have a world of tips and advice to share with her (take your time, enjoy being engaged, splurge on a great photog, etc.) my single biggest piece of advice would have to be - hire a planner. And hire a good one.
Her response was, "Really? Do you think I really need one?"
Absolutely. The week after I got engaged, I went to visit my grandbig from my sorority, Ashley.
Photos by Meggie Velasco
Yep, those photos are from the front lawn of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville where she got married in June 2010. It was the most beautiful, perfect wedding ever (at least until mine in August!). While sipping Pinot with Ashley and her mom to celebrate my engagement, they both offered up the most important piece of advice - hire a planner. I consider Ashley to be an expert on this. Take a look at those wedding photos again. Flawless. Fabulous. And everything went off without a hitch - a perfect evening for not only the happy couple but their 400 guests.
I knew I needed a planner because Corey and I would be living in New Jersey while the wedding planning was taking place home in Charlotte. But I think that regardless of how close you're getting married to where you live, a planner is necessary.
Carolina Wedding Design. We looked at CWD's portfolio online and read reviews from other real brides on a variety of websites (the Knot, Wedding Wire, etc.) All the reviews were glowing. The business is a member of the BBB and both partners have extensive experience in the wedding and event industry dating back over a decade.
Carolina Wedding Design offers three options:
Full service wedding planning from "Yes" to "I do" and everything in between.
Guidance in planning a wedding, vendor suggestions, to do lists, budgeting information, and a planner to help put the finishing touches on during the last four weeks.
Mend the End
Put the finishing touches on and coordinate with vendors you've already chosen during the last four weeks before the wedding. Basically, handle all the last minute stresses and make sure there are no surprises.
We chose the Marry Me package and are so glad we did. Cortenay has been such a blessing. When I have an idea, she knows how to make it happen. She knows what vendors to call and where to set up consultations. She has been able to negotiate contracts and has already paid for herself in savings from our venue and other vendors.
She acts as a big sister and gives great ideas and encouragement but also gives me tough love, which sometimes you need when planning a wedding. Yes, I may love elegant letterpress invitations. But no, it is not reasonable to spend $3,500 on stationary with my budget.
Color board Cortenay designed for me. ©CarolinaWeddingDesign
I couldn't imagine planning a wedding without her. I'd definitely not be able to get everything I wanted. She searches endlessly to make my ideas come true. But she also helps save us money. In the budget, she has thought of absolutely everything and added in gratuity and service charges already so there won't be any surprises. Every vendor in Charlotte knows her and has wonderful things to say about her and her partner, Heather.
I think hiring a planner is a necessity. Whether you choose a full service package or something more like the mend the end depends so much on what you're needs are - how big will your wedding be, does your venue offer catering and decorations themselves, do you want to add a lot of DIY touches, etc. If you hire a planner, you'll definitely not regret it. I've had some really crazy wedding nightmares (supposedly this is common!) but when I wake up I can relax because I know Cortenay would never let me forget to pick up my bridesmaids' gifts or wrap Corey's wedding day gift. She'd never let me forget my veil in New Jersey and she'll tally the response cards and send them to the caterer for me. Basically, a planner lets you be two places at once, do more than one person can do alone, and because they're a professional, they'll do a better job at it.
If you're getting married in Charlotte, you should definitely hire one of the CWD women. Email me and we'll chat!